It is named after the French town of Pithiviers, where the dish is commonly assumed to originate. A Pithivier is a round, enclosed pie made with two disks of puff pastry, with filling stuffed in between. Is traditionally decorated with spiral lines drawn from the top outwards with the point of a knife, and scalloping on the edge. The gateau pithivier is made with almond cream. The savory pithivier version is rather seen as a luxury pie served in special occasions. Based on game meat, its composition has endless interpretations. I found out that to prevent a soggy bottom pie crust, use pie dough for the bottom and puff pastry for the top. Any puff pastry can be used for this recipe; traditional, inverted and quick puff pastry.
Rub flour with salt, and cubed butter until mixture resemble coarse meal. Add the egg and water; mix until combined. Roll out pastry between 2 parchment paper into a 0.20''/5mm thick sheet; prick with a fork and chill to set. Before using, readjust thickness and cut out into a 9.5''/24 cm disk; chill. Save leftover pastry for later use.
French duck legs (Optional); save knuckles for confit. Lay legs flesh side up onto a shallow dish or baking tray. Sprinkle salt, add crushed garlic and thyme. Wrap up, and massage it. Refrigerated for 12 to 24 hours. Marinading duck legs in salt tenderized the meat. Rinse duck legs and pat dry. Place duck legs in a shallow dish, or large skillet. Cover with hot duck fat. Cover with parchment and foil or lid. Pop in the oven and confit duck legs for 3 hours at 275ºF/135ºC. Remove from the oven and let it stand on the stove for an hour. Transfer duck confit onto a wire rack to drain. Save duck fat and chill; some gelatinous and flavorful brown duck jus will form at the bottom; save it for the duck sauce. Shred meat off duck confit. Save bones for the sauce. Discard small bones, cartilages and leftover skin. Reserve duck meat for the montage.
Mince shallots and garlic. Wash, pat dry and chop parsley. Peel, wash and cut carrots into brunoise, and blanch for a minute. Remove stem from cabbage, and blanch for a couple of minutes, drain and pat dry. Save large leaves for the pie, and chop some for the stuffing. Clean, trim and chop mushrooms. In a hot pan, sauté mushrooms for 5 min with a tablespoon of duck fat. Add shallots, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook for 3 min. Add carrots and parsley; cool.
Mix ground pork or veal. 20% of duck legs meat can also be added to the stuffing. Save duck bones for the sauce then. Grind meat using the larger hole size meat plate. Season with salt, pepper, Cognac, egg and cream. *Foie gras can be subbed for chicken or duck livers. If so, clean livers, and marinade with drizzle of Cognac. Quickly sauté in hot pan with some duck fat – season with salt and pepper; set aside. For the foie gras, it must be frozen and avoid small pieces. Mark with a knife, season with salt and sear 30 sec on both sides in a very hot pan (No extra fat needed). Searing foie gras is optional. Keep frozen until ready to use.
Oil and line a 7.25''/18.5cm diameter bowl with plastic wrap in contact. Alternate layers of meat stuffing, veggies, and duck confit. Place the frozen foie gras, or livers (Not frozen) in the center, add more veggies, duck confit and seal with more stuffing. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Meanwhile, roll out puff pastry (500g) into a large 14''x14''/35cm and 0.17''/3mm thick sheet, and chill. Lay pie dough disk onto baking tray lined with a silicon mat, or parchment paper. Moisturize border with water (Avoid egg wash). Flip and de-mold stuffing on crust, and wrap with cabbage greens. Enclose with the puff pastry. Gently press down the dough over the dome chasing air out. Trim off excess dough. Save pastry for later use. Make a small hole (chimney) in the center of the using a small plain pastry tip. Surround with a small round of puff pastry. Egg wash and place the greased pastry tip back inside the chimney; this allows steam to escape during cooking. Egg wash pithivier and chill for 10 min. Egg wash again and decorate with spiral lines drawn from the top outwards with the point of a knife, and scallop the edges. Chill pie for 2 hours prior baking.
Roast duck bones in some duck fat. Add onions, carrots, garlic and cook for 10 min. Add tomato paste, herbs and cook for 3 min. Add Madeira and reduce to two-third. Add chicken stock and cook on low for about an hours. Sieve, add duck jus (saved from the duck confit fat). Cook on low simmer until it reduces to 400g/0.4qt. Skim off impurities and excess fat. Mix 10g Madera with 10g corn starch, and swirl in duck sauce and cook for 2 min. Lastly, whisk in butter, readjust seasoning to taste. Serve hot.
The use of a pizza stone is recommended. Preheat oven to 420ºF/215ºC. Bake pithivier for 35/40 min. If using a convection oven, bake at 375ºF/190ºC. The internal temperature of the pithivier should not go over 55ºC/131ºF. Let pithivier rest 20 minutes prior slicing. Serve with the hot duck sauce. Bon appétit!